Whenever I hear the word “nostalgia,” an image of grumpy old Archie Bunker and his dowdy wife Edith sitting on their musty old furniture in their Queens house singing “Those Were the Days,” pops into my head. But the truth is there’s nothing old-fashioned about nostalgia, which Webster’s calls “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period.”
Nostalgia has been a staple marketing and branding tactic for decades, but lately it seems like every product in the supermarket aisle is borrowing something from years gone by. Why does nostalgia speak so strongly to us as consumers? Because it taps into the fundamental human need to feel safe and secure, in our lives and in our choices. It’s like that old pair of blue jeans you never want to take off — it just feels cozy, familiar and right. And it speaks to me the way it speaks to all of us: I’m wild about Stewart’s soda bottles; I keep my receipts in an Altoids tin on my nightstand, and I’ve always loved the look of Jack Daniel’s bottles. But while existing brands are using the retro-ssaince to bring back old, and often beautiful, designs, new brands are taking retro elements and creating something entirely new, often combining these elements with undeniably modern touches.